World Briefs: Syria rebels, U.N. clash

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AMMAN, Jordan — Syrian opposition rebels, including fighters from al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, clashed Saturday with U.N. peacekeepers after a tense two-day standoff near the disputed Golan Heights, according to officials and activists.

One group of peacekeepers, from the Philippines, was rescued after being encircled by rebel fighters, and reportedly fled across the border into Israel. But Al Nusra Front said it was holding another group of several dozen U.N. troops, apparently from Fiji.

Firefights were reported to have broken out between 40 Filipino members of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force and the rebel forces Saturday morning, after the peacekeepers refused to surrender their weapons to the rebels.

No casualties were reported, according to a spokesman for the Philippine army.

Pakistan crisis talks

KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan and protest leaders were to resume talks today to resolve a standoff over the legitimacy of last year’s elections, after the finance minister said the government would concede to a judicial probe of the vote.

A group representing demonstrators didn’t reach an agreement following negotiations with government representatives Saturday, Asad Umar, leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, one of the opposition parties involved in the protests, said by phone. The government agreed in principle to a judicial probe of alleged fraud during the 2013 general elections, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said late Friday.

Palestinian plan

UNITED NATIONS — President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority may use the global stage of the annual General Assembly in a few weeks to publicly demand a deadline date for ending Israel’s occupation, according to his ambassador, while knowing the Israelis — and almost certainly their U.S. allies — will oppose that demand.

“He wants the international community to agree on a date,” the ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said. Mr. Mansour called the demand part of what he described as a new strategy by Mr. Abbas to unilaterally advance the goal of Palestinian independence and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

5 lost in mine rescue

BONANZA, Nicaragua — Rescue workers and trapped miners alike frantically dug away at opposite sides of rock and mud that blocked a Nicaragua gold mine, finally succeeding in freeing at least 20 men.

Efforts to reach five miners still missing continued Saturday.

Bomb targets spy HQ

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — A dozen people were killed when insurgents attacked the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence service in this eastern city Saturday.

A powerful bomb, apparently hidden in a car, was detonated outside the provincial headquarters of the National Directorate of Security about 5 a.m.

Hong Kong showdown

BEIJING — China’s lawmakers planned to vote today on a plan to introduce universal suffrage for electing Hong Kong’s next leader, potentially triggering a showdown with pro-democracy advocates in the city who are preparing to rally tonight if the proposal doesn’t meet their demands.

Those seeking the city’s top job in 2017 will need the support of at least half of a 1,200-member nominating committee, and no more than three contenders will be allowed to contest the poll, according to the draft framework, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday.

— Compiled from news services



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